SHANGHAI -- Positive news from the U.S. economy, and a sense of greater government support for China’s markets, saw Asian shares continue to rise in morning trading on Friday.
Reports that China’s state pension funds could invest over $300 billion in the markets encouraged further rises in China. After its 5.3 percent rebound Thursday, following a week of dramatic losses, the main Shanghai Composite Index closed the morning up almost 2 percent at 3,143. The secondary index in Shenzhen also rose steadily, closing up 1.67 percent. The ChiNext Index for high-tech companies was up by almost 1.9 percent.
The gains came after Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security You Jun said the country's local pension funds could start investing up to 30 percent of their assets, estimated at around $313 billion, in the stock market "as soon as possible."
A second day of gains on the Dow and other Western markets, along with stronger than expected U.S. growth figures, contributed to a rise in other Asian markets, which had already been boosted by suggestions that the U.S. was not likely to raise interest rates next month. In Japan the Nikkei continued to rise, finishing the morning up more than 2.5 percent, though analysts said short-selling remained high, suggesting some anxiety remained.
Australia’s ASX 200 also rose. It was more than 0.4 percent higher by 2 p.m. local time (12 a.m. EDT), while Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up 1.6 percent in morning trading.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index roared up almost 3 percent in early trading, before falling back. It closed the morning up just over half a percent.
China continued to seek to cool anxiety about a slowdown in its economy. A senior official from its central bank, the People’s Bank of China, told Reuters that the falls on world markets earlier this week were not caused by Beijing’s recent devaluation of its currency, but were rather the result of worries that the U.S. might raise interest rates.
A commentary in China’s official Global Times newspaper, meanwhile, said Western countries were using China as a scapegoat for their own economic woes, saying that “bubbles made by U.S. quantitative easing” were partly to blame.
And Chinese police have continued an investigation into “malicious short-selling,” which officials say is partly to blame for the recent volatility on the country’s stock markets -- which had lost more than 40 percent of their value in two months before Thursday’s rebound. Two more executives from leading brokerage CITIC Securities were detained by police Thursday as part of the investigation, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported Friday.